Musings from the other side… Protagonista!

Mikail Graham's picture

Protagonista! English definition: the main character in a drama or history. It is also acting on the major actions of a story. Without the main character 's story it would not be interesting, but are also important secondary characters.

As it says on Meri St. Mary’s website, Protagonista! unites punk-poet-chanteuse Meri St. Mary with mutant-trip-hop producer Th' Mole. This unique release now available on CD, iTunes, CD Baby and elsewhere, features five of Meri's songs, brought to vivid sonic life — layered, psychedelic, surreal and daringly new.

Originally released in late 2014 as 4 song vinyl only 7” EP on Beehive Records, Meri & Th’ Mole rereleased it in 2015 on CD, including a 5th track, which St. Mary also turned into a fascinating video with the help of filmmaker Camen Hodges, more on this a bit later.

This record is definitely in a category all its own. Having been a fan of both Th’ Mole and Meri St. Mary’s works for quite some years now I was immediately smitten with this adventurous collaboration. Meri’s poetry is always full of imagery that leaves one smiling at her wit, yet sometimes overwhelmed by her nakedness and exuberance in describing what’s going on deep within her mind and heart. Th’ Mole’s cinematic backing is simply brilliant, and an amazing showcase of his ability to bridge technological mastery with an organic connectedness that continually propels St. Mary’s visions into a truly exotic other worldly landscape.

Living in a City Of Dreams could be talking about anywhere, but to me it feels like the kind of urban sprawl you’d find in San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, or some strange Taiwanese night market full of live snakes and pulsating monkey chanting gamelan rejects. Truly a standout track filled with a Technicolor score that dazzles and delights, and all in under 2:50 minutes.

Wild Women pays homage to early 70’s SF band The Residents, swirling too & fro’ as Th’ Mole treats us to a carousel of demented circus like stop & go overtones, while St. Mary’s oddly dissonant double tracked voices weave a tale of day to day life gone awry, all the while reminding us that wild women don’t die, they just dye their hair.

My belly’s getting bigger, what is it? from Kiss Me, seems to tell the frightening tale of a night gone awry to the point where the whole place blows up into a fiery explosion of chaotic craziness, leaving the listener with a fractured psychedelic industrial hip hop groove that twists and turns, melting into an Eraserhead like groan as it slips back into a very dark night of nights.

Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? is an Americana folk song from the dark side, reaching deep into the heart of the eternal question that so many ponder. Think impressionistic dada mash-up meets mutant cartoon soundtrack. A sing-a-long with a happy go lucky refrain complete with a classic yodeling section that you won’t soon forget. Yep me likes this one a lot.

Nine Doors brings us to the 5th track and posibly the crowning jewel of this Extended Play collection of magic. Originally available only as a bonus download with the afore mentioned 7” vinyl EP, St. Mary and Th’ Mole have wisely included it as part of their official CD release. This aural journey starts off in a pleasing ambient kind of way, slowly morphing into a Spanish guitar introduction followed by a loping waltz like groove that could’ve easily sprung from a drunken Jodorowsky after-party. For nearly three minutes the refrain I am nine doors, I shall open the one on which you knock - gently lulls you into a comfy relaxed state. But then just when you think you’ve got this all sorted, in marches a parade of Gods, Goddesses and lost mental cases, introducing themselves one after the other, and climaxing with I the Queen Bee in the entrails of Samson’s dead lion. Yeowza! What the heck have we stumbled onto here?

For an answer to that question you’ll have to ask Meri St. Mary. For now you can watch the video that she and Camen Hodges made together. For me the film is definitely from another time and place compared to what I’d imagined the track would look like on film. Nonetheless it is a wonderful dreamscape like journey that takes this unique aural painting into an entirely other direction.

Be sure to check out the Nine Doors video on Vimeo here

Ladies, Gentlemen, and all of the rest of you, please note that this is an adventurous record not intended for the faint-hearted, yet one I highly recommend you have a listen too again and again before deciding what you think. In conclusion, if you like your music more from the other side of the road so to speak, this is a release not too be missed!


mikail grahamThe Other Side host and producer